The Winter Rose
This sequel to Ms. Donnelly’s first novel continues the story and fills in details of what happened to Charlie Finnegan, brother of Fiona (heroine of The Tea Rose). Set in early 20th century London, it also tells the story of aristocratic India Selwyn Jones, who defies her family and fiancé to pursue a career in medicine and practise in the slums of Whitechapel. Charlie has become known as the notorious gangster Sid Malone, and though he plays the part with alacrity, deep down inside, he longs to escape the life. Circumstances bring Sid and India together, sparking a romance that will force each of them to make changes in their lives neither ever imagined. Though it’s the second in a proposed trilogy, it also stands alone.
Fiona and Joe from The Tea Rose also appear frequently as Fiona continues her quest to reunite with her brother, over Joe’s strenuous objections.
Rich in period detail, social history and remarkable characterization, Ms. Donnelly’s fast-paced and engrossing book will have you turning the pages late into the night. Politics, love, hate and passion clash and carry the tale forward as Sid and India struggle to find a way to be together.
East London’s notorious streets and grinding poverty are characters in their own right, taking the reader deep into the lives of those who ground out a life and living there. Quality historical fiction that both entertains and informs is what every reader of the genre craves, and this novel does both.
My one quibble is that India, like Fiona in the first book, is a little too perfect, which gets tiresome from time to time. However, the other strengths noted above more than make up for this, and I highly recommend The Winter Rose to anyone who loves losing themselves in a book.